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29th Jun 2022

Horrifying detail emerges in Texas migrant truck tragedy that claimed 51 lives

Steve Hopkins

Three men have been arrested over the tragedy in San Antonio

Horrifying new information has emerged in the people smuggling tragedy that left at least 51 people dead – including how victims were reportedly sprinkled with steak seasoning to mask their odour.

A law enforcement official revealed the ploy after the tractor-trailer was found with around 100 people inside on an industrial road in south San Antonio on Monday when temperatures soared to 39.4C amid an ongoing heatwave, the Texas Tribune reported.

Officials said the deceased included 39 males and 12 females including five children. It is thought the smugglers sprinkled the people they were transporting with seasoning in a possible attempt to ward off authorities.

Sixteen people were found alive inside the sweltering truck and rushed to hospital but five have since died suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion.

“Stacks of bodies” were found inside the truck, according to reports, after cries for help were heard coming from the vehicle which was parked near a railroad track.

The dead were believed to have succumbed to the heat with authorities finding no air conditioning or water inside the trailer.

The city’s fire chief, Charles Hood, told the Texas Tribune the survivors were too weak to leave the 18-wheeler on their own, and said that it appeared people were trying to jump from the moving truck. Bodies were found several blocks from the truck’s location.

“I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, US secretary of Homeland Security.

“Far too many lives have been lost as individuals — including families, women, and children — take this dangerous journey.”

Two suspects, Mexican citizens Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, were charged with possessing firearms while residing in the US illegally, according to court documents.

Investigators reportedly traced the truck’s registration to a San Antonio address and the men were arrested after they left the residence.

A third suspect, described as a US citizen who drove the truck, was arrested and expected to be charged, but he remained in hospital as of Tuesday evening, according to a Mexican official.

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